Her Billionaire Widower

By: Cher Etan


"Sand needs to be wet."

When the Callum didn’t move, Nadya, yes that was her name, walked to the sea with her bucket and came back and emptied the bucket of water onto the sand in front of him. "Try now."

Callum tried again and laughed when his sandcastle stayed up, from the side of him the lanky girl picked up a little flag and stuck it in the top. "Thank you."

"Welcome. Why are you playing by yourself instead of joining in with the other kids?"

"They’re all bigger than me like you said. They don’t want to play with a kid." The little boy answered, looking dejected. Nadya smiled at him.

“I’ll play with you,” she said.

“You don’t have to.”

“I know I don’t, silly. You’re much more fun than those other kids. Plus you have better manners.”

“Thanks.”

“My grandma taught me that good manners were far more valuable than gold.”

“Oh. I don’t have a grandma.”

“You can share mine if you want.”

“Thanks.”

Nadya smiled at him, “You’re welcome.”

Nadya sat on her knees beside Callum and together both children started to play and try and make bigger sandcastles until Callum's nanny came and called them over and let Nadya have food with them. "Are you staying at the complex too? I haven’t seen you before." Flora asked.

"We just arrived last night; me n’ my mom. She’s up in the apartment talking on the phone." Nadya said as she picked up another pumpkin pie, Nadya giggled. "She does that a lot."

Flora smiled. "Well we will make you all have fun and leave your parents to it then. In the meantime, I can watch you as you both play."

*****

Nadya tugged gently at the doll's arm, trying to bend it into the position she wanted. It was handmade, formed of grass and straw, folded and woven and tied. But she had found it easier to create than to manipulate it now - dry after many months, it resisted her encouraging fingers. She sighed. It was not the most compliant star of her make-believe adventures; it made pretending rather difficult.

After several more futile attempts to force cooperation, she huffed and laid the doll on the floor. No, this was no good - she would have to find something else to do. Nadya stood up, dusting off her dress. "Mama, may I go out to play now?"

"Of course, my dear," she said, as if she never refused her anything. "But don’t stay out too long."

"I’ll be back soon," she promised.

Her eyes never strayed from the computer screen, "And don’t let yourself get cold."

She pulled her hand knitted shawl close about her. Her grandmother had made it for her. "I shan't."

"And do not go too far into the ocean," she added, sharply.

"No, Mama." She shuddered slightly. "I can swim pretty good Ma. But don’t worry I won’t go far; Cal can’t swim very well anyways."

"That’s great Nadya," said her mother not even asking who ‘Cal’ was.

Nadya didn’t say anything but her mood turned down. "Of course, Mama. May I go now?"

"Yes, yes, go on," she urged, clearly concentrating on whatever she was reading. And Nadya ran before she could change her mind.

She went down the elevator wondering if Callum was downstairs yet or not. It seemed like his dad was just as busy as her mom; and they both didn’t seem to have much time for their kids. She could watch out for Callum though; he was a sweet kid.

The tide was just coming in and the sunlight flashed on the surface as it moved, highlighting where it caught the rocks. Nadya jumped onto the first of the stepping stones, then paused. It was so beautiful here: the palm trees above casting patterns on the ground below, as little reptiles and amphibians flitted through the space in between the rocks, all backed by the sound of bubbling water. Now and then she'd seen a crab, riotously small and scary looking, but today the jewel of the scene was a dragonfly. It hovered nearby, so close she could almost touch it. Cautiously, still breathing hard, she held out a hand towards it. But it ignored the gesture, remaining where it was for a few moments before shimmering away to another part of the beach.

Nadya wrinkled her nose and moved on. Skipping now, she made her way toward where the other kids and Flora were congregated. They were learning how to snorkel and Nadya searched among the kids to see if Callum was among them. She couldn’t see his diminutive frame though so she decided to do her own thing, maybe collect some shells and interesting stones for her next arts and crafts project.

There were several paths down, some treacherous and winding, some smooth and sloping through the rocks along the beach. The one she was heading for was an easy path - though she could appreciate a good climb, today she was eager to just enjoy the beach. She could see it now, an expanse of pale sand dotted with dark rocks, and with a whoop she skittered down towards it.

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